This has fight of the year written all over it. Two of the best action fighters in the UFC meet at 155 pounds in order to stay in title contention. Both obliterated his last opponents. Barboza is primarily a striker, he does not want to do anything else in the cage. He is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt but never uses it. Gaethje has a wrestling background but almost never shoots for takedowns prefering to dish it out on the feet. This is gonna be a striking battle most likely, unless Justin decides to mix in some takedowns which would be reasonable. I think he will not though. On the feet Barboza is one of the best technical kickboxers on the roster, and for sure the best leg kicker. However he is allergic to pressure and tends to back himself straight into the cage very easily.
Gaethje is probably the best pressure fighter in the UFC. He will march people down recklessly, but cutting off the cage at all times, chopping down legs and exchanging hands in close. He has a very unique way of leg kicking, as if he was almost too close to leg kick but he manages to punish both legs with both his legs from there, while nullifying the opponent´s kicks. Barboza´s boxing is tecnhical but I feel overrated. He does not counterpunch well and I suspect Gaethje´s hands will cope well with the Brazilian´s style. He uses an ancient method of boxing. When he feels the opponent´s punch, he punches himself because that means the opponent is right there to be hit. He shows a complete abandon of his own health. He is a savage and if you do not take him out he will take you out. There are three possible scenarios here. Number one, one knocks the other out at any moment because both are huge punchers. Two, Barboza is able to pick him apart with his speed and power and takes him out in less than three rounds. And number three, Gaethje applies the pressure he needs and eventually breaks down Barboza and takes him out after enduring some punishment himself. I see the last scenario taking place, the pick here is Justin Gaethje to win by stoppage in the championship rounds.